BAGDAD – On April 27 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the historic Bagdad United Methodist Church, a Santa Rosa County centerpiece in old Bagdad, will hold a Preservation Celebration festival to help preserve the 132-year-old sanctuary.

The public is invited to gather at the church for a family day of fun. The agenda includes barbecue chicken dinners, a bake sale, activities and hot dogs for children, guided tours of the distinctive old sanctuary, gift baskets for sale, an antique quilt display, an arts and crafts sale, and live music by Charlyne Kilpatrick.

Bagdad United Methodist Church is an important landmark that was placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of the Interior in 2015. A historic street marker will be dedicated at 11 a.m. during the event. All proceeds from the day will go toward needed preservation of this local, state and national treasure. 

The church’s long history began in a moss-covered arbor in 1830 on the banks of the Blackwater River. The first building was constructed on the waterfront in 1837. By 1887, the present sanctuary on Forsyth Street was completed and had hosted its first wedding. Electricity was wired in 1909.

In 1912, disaster struck the steeple and bell tower by way of lightning, and the tower had to be rebuilt. Another misfortune came about when the old town’s saw mill closed in 1939, causing a number of church members to seek work elsewhere. However, when World War II ended in 1946, many families returned to the village and the church.

Again in 1993, the steeple and bell tower were struck by lightning, calling for yet another round of repairs. 

Over the years, other buildings, including a sizeable fellowship hall, were acquired as the congregation grew. With time, the old sanctuary began to show its age. This led the church's Women of Grace members to sponsor the Preservation Celebration as a fundraiser for historic conservation. 

The Fellowship Hall will be open with exhibits, gift baskets, arts and church crafts, and bake sale. Tables and chairs will be available inside and outside for dining. A separate Holiday House also will be open for the sale of used holiday items. 

Pre-sale tickets for the barbecue chicken dinner are $8 and can be purchased from church members. Dinners purchased on site will be $10. Hot Dogs with a drink and chips will cost $4. All other event activities will be free.

Bring the family and join the Preservation Celebration at the Bagdad United Methodist Church, 4050 Forsyth Street, Bagdad.

For more information, contact Sally Arnold at 850-450-4507 or sallyarnld@aol.com.